Changing Communities’ Lives through Provision of Clean Water

by Noah Wekesa

Mothers and daughters in Eyeledi kebele, Dewe woreda of Afar region carry the burden of collecting water from the river, which is far from their house, sometimes traveling two hours. Fatuma Dawud, a mother of three children: daughters age four and eight, and a son age one, lives in Eyeledi kebele. She, along with her daughters, travel long distances to fetch water from the river to their house every single day, sometimes two to three times a day. Afar is the most arid region of the country, with one of the highest pastoralist communities. Communities in Afar live daily without adequate supply of water and the strains of this shortage present the biggest water and sanitation challenge to the community. Young girls drop out from school to fetch water; and the communities, especially children, experience frequent diarrhea and other communicable diseases that can be prevented through improved access to water and sanitation. Moreover, due to scarcity of water, communities, occasionally, end up in conflict caused by the allocation and use of water.

In 2018, with the support of the European Union-funded Resilience Building and Creation of Economic Opportunities in Ethiopia project, the solar-powered Dewe water scheme was established and handed over to the communities in Eyeledi kebele. The key objective of the project was to reduce the vulnerability of pastoralist communities to water-borne diseases by providing them improved quality and access to safe water and sanitation facilities. This water scheme now provides access to clean water to over 3,200 people in Kebele and has the capacity of providing over 200,000 liters per day by generating seven liters per second. Communities’ lives have dramatically changed: “We no longer go to the river or travel long distances to fetch water that is unclean. We now have clean water near our home” Fatuma says. Women and children, in particular, feel the biggest impact.  “As a mother, I know the pain of not having water at home, and I know what having it close to home means to me and my children. It is life-changing in many ways. We drink clean water. We wash our children and keep ourselves clean regularly. Our goats and camels drink clean water as well from the water trough built at a closer distance from the pump. Isn’t this Allah’s blessing?” Beyond improvement in health providing access to clean water not only benefits their cattle, which are the primary sources of income for the pastoralist communities; thus, improving tier livelihood.

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